State Members of the League should be equally subject.
A general convention applicable to all States on an equal basis could not easily be made to contain the special stipulations of the existing Treaties, and thus the very evils against which the Treaties were intended to guard would probably escape correction.
The question dates back, he explained, to the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, when it was thought to have been finally settled. It remains, however, of extreme delicacy and no little peril. There is at the root of it an entire misconception of the origin and aims of the Minorities Treaties. These instruments were never intended to formulate a universal Right of Minorities as a principle of International Law. They were negotiated in order to deal with certain emergencies which had arisen in connection with the territorial changes brought about by the Treaties of Peace, and with those emergencies alone. New States had been created, and others aggrandized or diminished in a region which had for generations suffered from inter-racial and interreligious feuds, and it was necessary for the Great Powers to deal with this situation in order to assure the stability of their work.
There was no question of a general Statute of Minorities, but only a question of assuring the internal peace and the good government of the States concerned. So true was this that not only were the Treaties confined to the countries where their provisions were actually needed, but they were even made to differ among themselves according to the varying local exigencies. Thus, in the cases of Poland and Roumania, for example, they made provision for the protection of Jews which did not appear in the other Treaties. The danger of a change in this system is obvious.
If an International Convention applicable to all States were negotiated, it would have to be uniform, and, in that case, not only would the special provisions of the Treaties which relate to the peculiar needs of Minorities in Eastern Europe disappear, but the Treaties themselves would be still further attentuated by the necessity of consulting the legitimate susceptibilities of most of the Great Powers to whom the control of the League of Nations would be inexcusable.
The Jews are deeply interested in this question, for if once the present system is modified in the sense proposed, the special protection they enjoy under the Treaties in countries where that protection is vital to them would be the first to vanish.